I just read an article about a booking agent who’s been exposed for sexual harassment. The whole world seems to be in a rage because of guys like that.
There used to be a time when nobody would even react to that kind of behavior. A time when that was even considered normal.
When I was thrown into the crazy world of rock’n’roll in the mid- and late eighties, it was a completely different game.
Tour managers and crew guys would pick out girls in the crowd at shows and slap backstage passes on them – because the band would have their fun with them later. The girls thought of that as a sign of approval, not harassment. It was something to brag about. There was no shortage of girls who would line up for that.
The backstage area when bands like Guns n’Roses and Skid Row were on tour, looked like a Kelly Bundy-lookalike contest. Every single one of them wanted to be the Chosen One.
Or at least one of the Chosen Twenty if it was Kiss…
It was such a big part of the scene, nobody even thought of it as being weird in any way.
The videos back in those days always featured tits and ass-girls, trying very hard to be remembered as sex kittens. Metoo? Huh, what the fukh was that??
Then there were girls like me…
I loved EVERYTHING that had to do with the music biz. The only thing I was NOT interested in though, was being a Kelly Bundy-type of gal. I enjoyed dressing like it occasionally, but it was just for “window-shopping”, I wasn’t for sale. I went home alone.
One thing I KNEW after having hung out with the guys in my first band, was that if you slept around (and especially with musicians), you would be branded forever. I remember a female reporter that had given a famous musician a blowjob. After that, the ONLY thing people talked about, was THAT. She was never taken seriously as a reporter again.
If you wanted to be taken seriously, you simply couldn’t afford one single wrong step. Pants stayed ON.
But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get in many situations that never seemed particularly weird to me, because it was such a normal part of the scene at the time.
One guy, who worked for a super-duper-superstar rock legend (no names will be mentioned here) seemed genuinely nice and had tons of interesting stories to tell about his life working for said star, and also on his own.
He was funny, down to earth, and fascinating. We were a handful of people who had stayed in the hotel bar until 3 or 4 AM and I was so tired but couldn’t drive back to where I was staying cause I had been drinking a bit. So he offered me a bed for the night. In his room of course.
I said I wasn’t that kind of girl.
He said he wasn’t looking for “that kind of girl”. It was just an offer so I could get a few hours of sleep. “There’s an empty bed in my room, you can have that one“.
I went with him to the room, only to find out that the “empty bed” was the other half of his King size bed, and he just shoved all the stuff he had put there, on the floor and offered me a t-shirt to sleep in.
I politely declined the t-shirt and kept my own clothes on and even just slept on top of the blankets and duvets.
And you guessed it. The minute the lights went out, his hands “accidentally” ended up on my side of that bed and eventually where they definitely had no business being.
I jumped out of the bed, realizing that I might have been a bit naive – and left to sleep on a sofa in the lobby. The guy was offended. Apparently, I hadn’t played his game the way he had wanted me to, and he threatened to “punish” me by telling his boss not to talk to me or sign anything.
However, Mr Superstar was very kind and in the end, he even made the guy treat ME like a princess! :D Sweet revenge.
All I had to do was say no. And stick to that no.
There were more situations like that. The tour manager of one of the most famous heavy metal bands on the planet, liked me for whatever reason and showered me with backstage passes.
First, he brought me a guest-pass (I hadn’t even asked for one), then he got me a VIP-laminate and escorted me backstage to meet the band. I was very tired and wasn’t that much of a fan personally, so once the guys in the band started coming in, I didn’t feel like standing in that crowd of fans, so the guy went and led the guys in the band to me, one by one, in some sort of attempt to impress me. It was a bit bizarre.
When they left, he asked what my plans were. I said I was going to drive back home. I had a 3-hour drive ahead. He placed a room key in my hand, told me which hotel they were staying at, and his room number. “You can freshen up there, take a shower before you leave“, he said without waiting for a reply and disappeared.
The idea of going to his room and waiting for him there was ridiculous. That simply was not in MY plans, but here I was – with a room key.
I went to the hotel and left it at the reception desk, telling them which room it was – and left the premises to drive back home.
There were plenty of situations like that.
I had finished an interview with the guitarist and the drummer of another famous band, and during that conversation, the guitarist and I realized that we had a mutual friend.
He hadn’t heard from him for so long and didn’t have his number anymore, but I did. So, I went with him to his room, dialed the number, gave him the handset, and left the room.
He was an absolute class act and always has been. No weirdness, just a really cool dude. He said he would put me on the guestlist for the show. He even called and left a message to confirm.
Well… Once I got there, I had to find the tour manager, who, didn’t have the list at hand, but just assumed that I was the usual…”type”… He said he could help me of course, but stopped for a few seconds, looked me up and down and said: “But what’s in it for me?”
I was pissed. “NOTHING dude“.
He left, thinking that he had punished me by displaying his power.
His long face, when he saw me backstage anyway, was priceless. The guitarist had spotted me and brought me inside. And there was nothing “in it” for anyone, other than good conversation and a few laughs.
And then there was Gene Simmons who I will name because he’s just funny and has the reputation he has, who asked if I wanted to be the mother of his children. I can’t even get mad at that. I took it as a joke and think it was intended as that in some shape or form. :)
The only time I got really furious over actual sexual harassment, was in the crowd at Sweden Rock Festival many, many years ago.
I was watching one of my favorite bands in the world, when some drunk asshole grabbed my tits from behind and refused to let go. I hit him with my elbows, stepped on his toes, fought like a wild cat to get his fucking hands off of me. What the actual f**k?! And in the middle of this struggle, my hero stops the show for a few seconds to point at me and the drunk idiot behind me, and go: “I don’t blame you man, she’s got great tits!” Oh, you did NOT just say that?! Seriously??
Instead of telling that guy to stop, he encouraged it and got the crowd roaring. I refused to go to the band’s shows for a good while after that. At one point, I had to go cause his band was headlining and I knew the opening act, so my boyfriend at the time and I, had been invited to the gig.
Mr superstar-frontman spotted me in the crowd and started interacting in his usual charming way. I was still mad though, who the f**k ARE you, dude? I got over it after a few years, but that was just uncool.
There was the pig who already had a bad reputation, who tried to lure me up to his room by asking me to “help him look for a guitar pick”. He had to go look for himself, I wasn’t going anywhere with him.
Or wives of stars who thought that I had screwed their husbands when I was probably the ONLY person who HADN’T…
Back in those days, you learned that you simply couldn’t apply the rules of the regular world to the world of rock’n’roll.
I hated being mistaken for a groupie, cause I worked hard to make a name for myself as a reporter, not as the chick-of-the-day.
Some gossip-stories that I heard about myself were creative and hilarious, whoever made them up didn’t know the first thing about me and who I really was and still am.
There was no metoo back then. You were on your own. And in some ways, I think we have to take matters in our own hands and be warrior queens to make the changes that need to be made.